Three Peaks Solar
Cedar City, Utah              
Best Project, Energy/Industrial; Judges' Special Recognition

Owner: Clenera LLC
Lead Design Firm/Structural Engineer: Blymyer Engineers Inc.
General Contractor: Swinerton Renewable Energy
Civil Engineer: Kimley-Horn
Consultants: JGK Consulting LLC; Solar Alignment Solutions; Blue Eye Corp.; SOLV; GroundWork Renewables Inc.
Subcontractors: Construction Innovations; EPC Services Co.; GSL Electric; Robinson Fencing Inc.; Wagstaff Crane Service LLC; Gilbert Development Corp.

Three Peaks Solar is an 80-MW solar facility constructed on 739 acres near Cedar City. That area of Utah is hilly, with exceptionally hard soils. To build the project, Swinerton Renewable Energy had to move more than 400,000 cu yd of dirt. The excavation required creation of a temporary pond, which provided a million gallons of water a day during the peak grading period. The project also called for the contractor to drive more than 48,000 piles. 

This was Swinerton’s first project using an innovative and proprietary new solar-construction software. Called Sunscreen, the application allows for real-time tracking of construction progress and provides ongoing access to metrics such as daily installation quantities, overall completion percentage, open and fixed quality-assurance and quality-control items, and quality reports. 

Swinerton says the system is the first of its kind. Operated using iPads in the field, the application shares information in real time with computers in the construction trailer and in client’s offices. In the past, construction updates were usually reported daily by an onsite owner’s representative who used an electronic spreadsheet. In some cases, they were discussed only on a weekly conference call with the owner. 

Sunscreen allows the client to check progress at will so that conference calls can be dedicated to problem-solving rather than status updates. It works with any device connected to the internet. Still in the development stage, Sunscreen will eventually provide scheduling information, location tracking for materials staged on site, construction progress reporting, real-time productivity tracking and data for equipment use.

Despite the technological boost, the project had its issues. Those included a construction timeline shortened by a month because of financial constraints. Then shipping-line Hanjin declared bankruptcy, which delayed delivery of materials. Finally, construction of electrical lines was held up for two months because a Swanson’s hawk was nesting in the area.

Even so, the contractor delivered the project on time and on budget, with no OSHA-recordable incidents or lost-time accidents.

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